This is Lambert’s earliest self-portrait, most likely to have been drawn soon after he began to study with Julian Ashton in 1894. He presented himself scrutinising his appearance, carefully analysing his facial features, placing one half of his face in shadow and the other in light.
He used sharp, pure outlines, drawing directly with the pen, using lines to convey the modelling of the figure.
Lambert’s initial approach to drawing derived from Ashton. Trained as a black-and-white illustrator, Ashton encouraged hard outlining; he insisted that the contour or outline should be drawn first and that the initial lines should contain within them the germ of the finished drawing. In this drawing Lambert used heavy lines for the shading, creating a kind of pen-and-ink equivalent of the square-brush technique he used in his paintings in the 1890s.